IGDA Finland Turku Hub Gathering in May

May 12 was Turku Game day, and IGDA Turku Hub organized a full specced evening program at Sparkup, with talks by several prominent game industry people. Read more about how to make money when everything is free, what Rival Games learned from their game series The Detail, how NordicEdu designs the future of serious games and what Appstar are up to. Read all the way to the end, and get some good advice from IGDA volunteer of the year.


Lovell’s Curve

Nicholas Lovell, an investment banker, author and consultant, held a thought-provoking talk about his theory on ”how to make money when everything is going free”. Lovell claimed that F2P is not actually a business model it is a marketing tool. By offering the product for free first, you reach an audience, but after that you have to “earn your right” to talk to the customer again.

The Curve refers to the amount that a person, a customer, is willing to pay. The idea was inconceivable before the Internet. The web has enabled one-to-one communication, but also increased the amount of products that are given away for free. How do we keep paying our bills when the competition gives away their stuff for free?

We can let people choose how much they spend – this is a marketing opportunity. Some of the audience will pay even if most will not. Lovell’s Curve can be broken down into three steps: 1. Find an audience 2. Earn the right to talk to them again 3. Enable superfans.

His advice is that we as game developers and creators need to keep our customers in “our ecosystem”. You offer the customers the chance to pay what they want (and including some ridiculously over-priced items, tiers or pledges, makes the cheaper ones look like a bargain). Also enabling people to participate in the journey of the game has turned out to be a successful strategy. Lovell mentioned Tim Schafer’s Kickstarter as an example. One-third of the pledgers did not even play the finished game – they backed the project for the creator’s journey.

So, how can you enable the people who love what you do? Let superfans spend money on something they value, let them “level up” as supporters. Lovell also pointed out that people in the digital era spend money on content that gives them status and emotions. The point is not to extract money from people. This is something that stops working after a time, according to Lovell. Delivering human joy is what works.


A Detailed Post-Mortem

Rival Games and Jukka Laakso held a presentation about their third and last episode of The Detail. For those of the readers who do not yet know about Rival Games, they are currently the biggest Turku game company, with 17 employees. They focus on interactive narratives and storytelling. The core game loop focuses on choices, particularly on the gray areas of our moral compass. These choices make the player emotionally attached to the characters in the game. Interestingly it is the smaller choices that really bring the characters alive. The Detail is a game series that is about how people experience stories differently.

The third episode of The Detail – Devil in the Details was recently released on Steam. Laakso gave the audience a post-mortem highlighting first the good, then the bad.

The writers did a good job, the visual style was unique and appealing, audio was successful, coders made things seem as they should. Communication within the team has improved.

The list of bad things was slightly longer, or more detailed. The team expected more money from revenue, and Laakso gave us the advice to plan the budget so that it lasts for the whole game. Because of the lack of money, deadlines and delivery failed. There was too much time between episodes, and sales were bad because of it. The team had to cut the last two episodes, and a lot of the plot was cut short. The core team changed a lot. Design was neglected, and so was gameplay. There was no iteration just execution. The art style was inconsistent because of the change of artists. There were bugs and there was not enough time left for testing. Many of the problems had their origin at management level. But all you can do is learn from it and move on.

Currently Rival Games has a partnership with a comics print, and the budget problems are solved.


Serious forest games

The following presentation was by NordicEdu CEO Tomi Kokkonen. NordicEdu has been making games for five years, and already have an excellent track record of serious games. They currently employ seven people and reside in the Manilla building in Turku.

NordicEdu’s goal is to become the best serious game company in Finland, and globally. They offer expertise to different organizations. They have three types of customers: other companies that want to implement a game idea; unions, federations or public organizations that need partners to develop a game; organizations that commission advertisement games.

People learn best when they are motivated. There are different approaches to serious games, and some projects are more about gamification or gameful design. Kokkonen lists types of serious games: teaching games, simulations, meaningful games and purposeful games. NordicEdu’s current project MobiMetsä is for UPM and the Scouts. It is a game about teaching the sustainable use of the Finnish forest. The players need to, for example, take photos of real trees in the game.

Kokkonen also gave us an introduction on how NordicEdu does their projects. They start with a workshop day and they create a user experience journey. Focus group opinions are crucial in developing good serious games. Making graphics and coding is almost trivial compared to the much more demanding process of getting to know the core audience.

NordicEdu also showed us an interesting way to garner comments from testers: short video blogs by the testers that are sent through Whatsapp. It is hard to get people to write, and when they talk freely they give away much more information.


Tapping into a fashionable audience

Appstar’s current game is focusing on the dress up genre with a more casual (but fashionable) twist. Olesja Parkkali introduced the small start-up that is about to grow. They have gained success with their beta version of World of Fashion and are developing the game further.

According to studies, women and girls spend more money and time on mobile games than men. Still this customer group is underserved. Appstar has been able to engage female players ages 13-20. The game itself is about collecting celebrities and doing global challenges. The players comment and like styles.


The Turku Game Day evening ended with a short presentation by an IGDA volunteer from Helsinki: Jenni. Her most valuable hints were to 1) volunteer 2) get a spot at the door to the gatherings, that way you meet everyone.


Our demo corner got many people interested in testing the new games.

IGDA is all about networking and an inclusive community, and making work as a game developer fun.

Text: Jenny Wiik

Photos: Oskari Tamminen and Toni Heinonen

IGDA Finland Seminars + May Gathering with Yousician

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Spring is in the air, and summer is around the corner. You know what that means: it´s time for the May gathering!

To wrap up the spring season, there´s something very special coming up. Sponsoring the gathering we have Yousician, a music education company with a relentless drive to make the world a more musical place by changing the way people learn to play musical instruments.

Yousician is the fastest growing music education company in the world with over 25 million users across their apps. They develop high-tech piano, guitar, bass and ukulele learning software that gives users real-time feedback on how they play. Yousician’s cutting edge audio technology can listen to any instrument without the use of additional equipment. Yousician combines the addictive features of computer games with music exercises to make the learning process easy, fun and motivating.

Yousician is providing us with with all the tools for an absolutely epic night: guitar and ukulele workshops, competitions with great prizes, a live rock show and an arcade cabinet - and a costume competition! So grab your swag, bring the bling, this is the time to shine: dress up as your favourite, or least favourite, or the coolest or the grooviest musician for a chance to win a guitar or a ukulele!

IGDA Finland Seminars, Sponsored by Yousician
Time: 17.05.2016 at 17:30 – 18:30 (Doors at 17.00)
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

IGDA Finland May Gathering with Yousician
Time: 17.05.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

Seminar agenda

Ari Pulkkinen

CEO and founder of AriTunes, Ari Pulkkinen is an award-winning composer and sound designer. With over 13 years of professional experience, his works include original music and audio for games such as Angry Birds, Resogun, Alienation, Super Stardust HD and Trine series. His record includes Hall of Fame in Pocket Gamer, Finnish Game Developer of the Year 2011 and Best PS4 Audio Award 2013 from Resogun by IGN and many others.

How to achieve the best audio design in video games

Audio and music branding is an important thing for any respectable project from mobile to console games. Audio can be neglected and hurried quite easily and it always affects the end result. Ari's speech will shed light on how to achieve the best results by designing and planning the project well before the actual work begins. How to create proper asset lists, reference and mood lists, and how to fit audio design to the overall game development cycle.

Ilmari Hakkola

Ilmari Hakkola is a game and media industry veteran, having started in mobile games back in 2000 as a graphic artist. Hakkola joined Rovio for the first time in 2005, expanding his area of work into music composing and video compositing. Hakkola is also the founder of Kombo, one of the biggest production companies in Finland, which was acquired by Rovio in 2011. After uniting with Rovio again, Hakkola has acted as Rovio's Head of Audio, leading a team of eight audio professionals creating unique audio content for Rovio's games and animations.

Audio's role in F2P

Free-to-play games are all about the service mentality. Games are constantly updated with new content and events, but audio is often built around old conventions. Sounds and music are one of the strongest tools of creating emotional engagement - can this property be used to boost the games performance?

IGDA Finland Turku Hub May Gathering Demo Corner

We are organizing demo corner at the Turku Hub May gathering. The demo corner is a place for developers to show their games and get some feedback. The space is intended for everyone: from teams continuing something they started at game jams to commercial studios. Space is limited to ten spots. People demoing will get a table and power outlet. If you have special needs please mention them in the form.

Demo corner is free and open for all. Collected information will be used for event organization only.

NOTE: Provide your own laptops, phones, tablets or other devices your game needs to run. If you need to plug more than one device to a power outlet, require a lot of space or need anything else we might have not thought about, let us know here. (Mobile devs might want to bring their own chargers.)

Sign up here!

IGDA Finland April Demo Corner Sign-up

We're organizing another demo corner at the April gathering. The demo corner is place for developers to show their games and get some feedback. The space is intended for everyone: from teams continuing something they started at game jams to commercial studios. Space is limited to eight spots. People demoing will get a table and power outlet. If you have special needs please mention them in the form.

Demo corner is free and open for all. Collected information will be used for event organization only.

NOTE: Provide your own laptops, phones, tablets or other devices your game needs to run. (Mobile devs might want to bring their own chargers.)

Sign up here!

IGDA Finland April Gathering with Electronic Arts


Goodbye winter, hello spring!

Yep, you guessed right: It sure is time for another amazing night with IGDA! And we have with us no other than Electronic Arts and their mobile development studio tracktwenty.

Tracktwenty is EA’s mobile development studio based in Helsinki. The studio’s first title, SimCity BuildIt, has seen tens of millions of downloads since its December 2014 release and received multiple awards like the Best of Apple 2015. As well as continuing to develop and support SimCity BuildIt, tracktwenty’s experienced team of programmers, artists, designers and analysts are also working on new projects.

Come join us and let the good times roll!

IGDA Finland April Gathering with Electronic Arts

Time: 05.04.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland March Gathering wth Reaktor Ventures: The Aftermath

Hello hello! Time to recap the Helsinki March gathering with Reaktor Ventures. This time there was no seminar so we got started a little later. The evening was more of a hands-on experience with a number of exciting Virtual Reality demos available. We also cheered and toasted Vesa Raudasoja for his success in the Board of Directors election! Vesa is the first Finn and only second European member of the Board, and his goal is to bring the “international” back to IGDA. To illustrate some of his ideas, Mr. Raudasoja described a collaboration between sites in different countries during the 2016 Global Game Jam. During the jam, the different locations posted progress updates, made video calls and cheered each other on over the weekend. What’s up for you in the next three years, Mr. Raudasoja? “I want to connect the dots in a large scale. The time is ripe for the European and International game developing communities to start working together more closely, in a natural way. I think all it needs is a little push in the right direction, and I wish to be there to put things in motion.” “Over the ten years I’ve been involved in building this community, I’ve made a lot of friends and connections, but it doesn’t end here. We are going to do this as a community, I couldn’t have made this alone.” Mr. Raudasoja also hopes that everyone would would offer him any insights or ideas about how to improve the international community and collaboration between the game developers of the world. You may contact him at vesa.raudasoja@igda.fi.  


Reaktor Ventures

The evening was sponsored by Reaktor Ventures, the Finnish seed stage investor. Mr. Ville Vesterinen, EIR of the company, talked to us about how Reaktor Ventures works.

“We like to be the first investor in the company, to add the most value. We invest from tens of thousands up to one million euro, and also offer the services of Reaktor’s 350 designers, coders & growth engineers to our portfolio companies free of charge. We have a strong interest in the Finnish game industry and want to work hard to make it succeed just as we want to work hard for the Finnish startup space in general.“

“So far at Reaktor Ventures we have invested in two very promising companies in the VR space. We have invested in both VR content as well as VR enabling technology, and intend to continue doing so in the future! Games are the obvious choice but VR has promise in many different sectors and we’d love to see companies across the board.”

Sólfar studios is an Icelandic gaming studio working on two titles: Everest VR experience (more on that later) and a game called Godling. Univrses is an early stage Swedish company developing the hottest central technology for all VR hardware - positional tracking.

What do you feel the future is going to be for VR technologies, Mr. Vesterinen?

“We believe that VR, and in due course AR will be among the central new growth markets of the coming decade and beyond. We have exceptionally deep understanding and competence in VR related technologies here in the Nordic countries, and we believe that wider Scandinavia, and especially Finland, is going to be home to many world leading VR and AR companies.”


Sólfar and Reaktor Ventures had erected a black box in the middle of the venue. Inside awaited a thrilling virtual reality experience on Mt. Everest, using the new HTC Vive system. Created from over 300,000 hi-res images, the environment also in fact allows you to physically move around, thanks to the Vive’s motion tracking tech. Cleverly using virtual step marks on the floor and a barely visible grid inside the VR world to mark the walls of the room, you can move around fairly safely inside the virtual experience without the fear of walking into a wall.

An exhilarating additional experience came from the handheld controllers. The handle-shaped controllers had great and very responsive grip, and the feedback felt surprisingly realistic - as if you were really dragging a gloved hand along the rope handles of a bridge! Also, being able to see your hands in virtual reality really adds to the immersion.

All in all, despite the shortness of the actual demo, the experience was very engaging, and doing what every responsible person should do to overcome their fear of heights – step over the edge into a bottomless icy gully –  was surprisingly terrifying, in spite of knowing there was solid floor under my feet!

Finnish Virtual Reality Association, FIVR, had a successful day hosting the grand opening of the Finnish VR Hub at YLE Iso Paja in Pasila earlier on Tuesday. The hub offers space and hardware for devs working on VR and AR projects, and contains currently powerful PCs, HTC Vive and Oculus Rifts. FIVR aims to bring together Finns interested in VR development. They currently have some 400 members, professionals and hobbyists alike, and joining is free of charge.

Their big day was rounded up by some very nice demos by FIVR members. The demos included a fun platformer called Lollihop, a VR comic episode game demo called Since They Left (Riidenpolusta Lähtien), a Samsung Gear VR space flight demo and another Vive demo, an exciting VR space painter called Tiltbrush. We got to try a couple of these demos, but due to very long queues, we simply couldn’t get through to all of them. Joonas Häll tried Lollihop, a game where you control an adorable platypus in a platformer world: “The game was really cool - you can control the camera through the headset, so by leaning forwards you can see things up very close, or take a peek behind a wall and see where you’re going to jump to. Very enjoyable!” I had a peek at Since They Left. It is going to be a five-episode game, combining features of comics, visual novel and adventure games. According to the game’s developer and main artist Kriina Rytkönen, the demo was an “episode 0”, proof of concept and a prequel to the main story. The story itself is going to feature the demo’s youths ten years later, meeting up in a forest with some supernatural elements. Sounds like fun! Maxine was again full to bursting with people having fun, trying out the demos and enjoying themselves. Until next time!  


Photos by: Janne Karvinen

IGDA Finland March Gathering with Reaktor Ventures


Guess what, folks! February is almost over and it´s time to get ready for the March gathering. And we´ve got plenty of awesomeness in store.

This time our event is sponsored by the fantastic Reaktor Ventures. They want to invest in the best seed stage companies and help them become global leaders in their industry. In addition to investing venture capital, the company makes their 300 professionals available for their portfolio companies for free. Since February 2013, Reaktor Ventures has invested in 27 seed stage companies, including 5 gaming startups.

Also, we´ll have some VR setups, including HTC Vive, for you to try out! Pretty cool, right.


For a full day of VR, remember to check out the The Finnish Virtual Reality Association Grand Opening with seminars and demos held at YLE Iso Paja, in Pasila. More info and registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fivr-hub-grand-opening-tickets

This will be a night to remember, so make sure to join us in March!

IGDA Finland March Gathering with Reaktor Ventures
Time: 08.03.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland Seminars + February Gathering with King: The Aftermath

Hello again! Time to recap the Helsinki February gathering! The atmosphere was very warm, with an impressive number of people having showed up to hear the pre-gathering seminar. We had King representatives talking about the company's new game engine Defold, as well as New Dawn and Housemarque to show us a teaser trailer of their upcoming documentary feature film, Name of the Game. While waiting for the Candy Crush Royalty to show up, we had a chance to set up a Pulla Crush of our own - King, our sponsor this month, had provided some delicious Shrove buns for the Almond team and the Jam team to battle over. ;)


The Defold Saga

Robert Käck, Mikael Säker, and Benjamin Glaser from King introduced us to King's brand new game engine, Defold. King acquired Defold, now a six-year-old company,  two years ago. So far, Defold has been used for the King title Blossom Blast Saga, and a number of indie games.

The core idea around Defold is to create a lightweight game engine that would cut down the time spent fiddling with tools, and help you spend more time actually creating awesome games. Since most of the Defold devs come from AAA backgrounds, they know the importance of performance and scale - not just that of the games, but of the tools as well. Moreover, they wanted a tool that the entire team can use, from programmers to artists.

The engine itself will be very customisable. Capable of 2D and some nice physics out of the box, at its core Defold is 3D. The main scripting language is Lua, and all the features support fast and easy workflow. When restructuring folders, for instance, the engine keeps track of references for you. You can even make changes in scripts while running the game in the editor and see them take effect immediately! This is really good news for testing small tweaks. The builds for different platforms are also very fast, thanks to Lua.

There are some limits, of course – 3D and requires a little bit more effort and tinkering, and Lua as scripting language means you basically need to go low-level to create AIs. Currently the devs are working on a new, better editor view and engine expandability.


Sharing is caring

King is releasing Defold to the open public for free. There will be no premium versions, the engine will be the same inside and outside the company. When asked why, the answer was "because we can". Openness also maintains positive pressure to keep up great quality and discourages trick solutions.

The engine is currently at invite phase, and there are invites available for IGDA people here. Defold will be officially published at around GDC this year.


Vote Finnish in IGDA elections!

Vesa Raudasoja was applauded to the stage to remind the audience of his nomination to IGDA Board of Directors. Mr. Raudasoja feels that while IGDA is the largest game developers' association in the world, it is very US-centric. Mr. Raudasoja would like to offer global perspective and unite the European game front. If you are a member of IGDA, exercise your right to vote!


Name of the Game

Last but not least, we got a teaser sample from Name of the Game. What started as a marketing video about Housemarque's still very hush-hush game project collaboration with the arcade game legend Eugene Jarvis has now turned into a full-length film production.

The New Dawn camera crew has been following the development process for 18 months now, and while Mikael Haveri, the Head of Self Publishing from Housemarque told us that at first they felt a bit shy and may have needed a beer to relax in front of the cameras, they have now become a natural part of the process. We can attest to that, having seen his butt in some epic ice swimming scenes!

The film will follow the key moments of the project, but it also dives into the lives of the devs outside the project. Release is expected after the game – still unnamed – is released, but we can't wait to see the result!

If you missed the presentation, you find the trailer and more info here.

Photos by Daniel Schildt

That's that for this time! Hope to see you in March!


IGDA Finland Seminars + February Gathering With King


After a great start for the new year it's time to get ready for the February gathering!

The gathering will be sponsored by King, best known for launching several hugely popular titles like Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and Bubble Witch Saga. To get the evening started we'll have a seminar with presentations from three amazing gentlemen: Robert Käck, Mikael Säker and Benjamin Glaser.

Robert's main claim to fame was winning both gold and silver at the Swedish championships in NHLPA Hockey '93 and NHL '94 on Sega Mega Drive back in the day. Nowadays he makes sure that King is a great place to work and create games at, heading up the employer brand team. Mikael Säker has been working professionally in the videogames industry since 2002; as a writer, narrative designer, game designer and game director. He is currently working in King's Defold team as a technical writer, designer and developer and for DICE as a narrative director. Benjamin Glaser started out as a game artist in 2001. He has been responsible for a number of original titles from, among others, King and has worked both as artist and game designer, mainly in the mobile space. Lately he has focused on bringing digital products to market, working with companies such as Spotify and is currently responsible for the public launch of King's game engine Defold.

Also, a long time active IGDA Finland member and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Vesa Raudasoja, who was recently nominated for IGDA Board of Directors, will say a few words about his nomination.

And that's not all! On top of all that we'll be showing a clip of the upcoming documentary film The Name of the Game. The film covers the adventures and collaboration of the legendary game designer, Eugene Jarvis, and the Finnish game developer, Housemarque.

So come and escape the snow and cold for an evening of fun and friends!

IGDA Finland Seminars, Sponsored by King
09.02.2016 at 17:30 – 18:30
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

- Robert Käck, Mikael Säker and Benjamin Glaser

IGDA Finland February Gathering with King
09.02.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland seminars + January Gathering with Metropolia: The Aftermath

Happy New Year, folks! Time for the recap of the year’s first gathering, sponsored by Metropolia. Held in Maxine for the second time, the event was kicked off with a seminar on storytelling. A respectable number of people had braved the weather and knee-deep snow to tap into the knowledge of Mika JD Sorvari of Rival Games and Adam Mayes, Game Designer and subject responsible for the Uppsala University Game Design programme in Visby. The Devil in The Detail

Mr. Sorvari talked about the practical side of publishing their neo-noir crime adventure The Detail. The team’s goal was to create a five-episode season, and they decided to focus on the story instead of gameplay and puzzles. Their format, inspired by Telltale games and Dontnod’s Life is Strange, hasn’t really been overdone in the market, so they wanted to join the race and even do better! The game has been quite successful with 80/100 average rating on Steam, selling over 100,000 copies.

The presentation provided delightful insight into a game writer’s job and some of the choices they face when writing a modular story. Mr. Sorvari described to us several ways to structure such writing, from the relatively simple “String of pearls”, where storylines come together every so often in the same place, through the “Diverging Paths”, which can be more fun for the player with its multiple independent story streaks, to the “Full Octopus”, which appeared to be a mix of both. Some choices may skip some parts of the plot entirely, for instance, but there would still be an abundance of possible outcomes. All structures need to balance meaningful choices with available resources.

Mr. Sorvari emphasised the importance of “mid-level choices”. Often you may be faced with the fact that your choices are often either completely trivial or absolutely life and death. Giving the player choices from the middle ground can be very satisfying, especially if they lead to concrete outcomes – possibly even later in the game.

For keeping all of this together, Mr. Sorvari introduced us briefly to his most important tool, articy:draft. It’s a professional game design software, especially powerful in organising modular writing. Beat the dead horse until it stops spitting out money, or, You’re doing stories wrong Mr. Mayes took us on a (at times absolutely hilarious) whirlwind tour of good storytelling principles. He started with “cussing out lazy, feckless narratives and the people who buy them” (his words, not ours!). But there was more to it. According to Mr. Mayes, since we have this massive new storytelling media with millions of consumers, we should make something other than Michael Bay movies with it. So how? Taking storytelling apart, we have the narrative: a simple telling of events. ”The floating hands and gun flew into a room. The floating hands and gun killed some people.”

A plot then, is a sequence of events with a causal link. “The king died, and then the queen died of grief.” And then, of course, you have your characters. Mr. Mayes showed us a quote from Matt Burnett, the creator of the Steven Universe cartoon; he was asked whether his show was a character driven or a plot driven story or a bit of both. His answer: “Character driven. Plot means nothing without characters.” Alright, so what makes a good character? In short, Desire, and goals. What do they want? Why do they want it? Plot can’t be isolated from characters, because they are the ones creating the causal links that make up the plot! And if you link your player’s goals with your character’s goals, you’ll not only be telling a story through an interactive medium, but you actually engage the player and make them drive their own interactive story.

It doesn’t even need to be tedious. The adorable Steven Universe video (available in the slides) showed us that you can introduce characters and their motivation, lay down the backstory and push them towards the future in only a few minutes if you’re clever about it.

So what’s the problem? Why aren’t we already doing this? According to Mr. Mayes, the industry consensus seems to be that an interesting lead would make it harder for people to relate to the protagonist. Or that the players need to be able to see themselves as the protagonist, which clearly, as you can see, is usually the case.

Sure, the protagonist might be a supersoldier. And a cyborg. You’re also assassins. From the future. But it’s a blank character, immediately relatable to anyone!

And here came perhaps the most poignant words of the evening: since games are an interactive medium that can be the complex bearers of ideas, designers should not only be capable as designers. They should also be competent and responsible authors, who can express meaningfully through interactive systems.

One thing that games are brilliant at, according to Mr. Mayes, is character development: levelling up, getting more powers, getting more powerful equipment and so on. If you tie this mechanic to the player’s progression in the story, you let the player truly play through the story and not just sit back and watch the it unfold. All in all, these two very inspiring and educating presentations launched an excellent evening with many excited groups of people teaming up to discuss the themes among themselves and the speakers.


  • Mr. Mayes’ presentation slides are available here!


Demo Corner Report

This month’s demo corner hosted games made by students and affiliates of Metropolia. By the time I got there, there were still six games to try out! Ilkka Räsänen from Mubik Entertainment was there to show off their company’s and Metropolia students’ collaboration, a musical snake game based on Mubik’s original musical quiz game. The goal of the game is to keep the snake alive by tapping on buttons, keeping to the rhythm of the song playing in the background. The company also make pure learning games with similar mechanics to be used in teaching children and treatment of memory patients. The game will be out for Android in February. Panu Siitonen, who currently works at the Metropolia Game studio, presented a 2D flying game called Al’s New Wings. Al is an albatross who has lost his wings, so he’s learned to fly a helicopter and found himself a new career saving people, animals, crates and ships that are in trouble at sea. Adorable! The game isn’t out yet, but iOS and Android releases are planned.

Trash Diver started out as a school project in Metropolia. It’s a post-apocalyptic underwater platformer inspired by the alarming trash situation of the Pacific Ocean. In a world where sea levels have risen critically, most resources are now trash in the bottom of the sea. The game features some puzzles and enemies, and the goal is to get resources to the surface. The demo version has three levels and is available on Playfield and IndieDB. Vulpine Games had brought their social space game, Last Planets. It’s a tactical mobile MMO in the spirit of Clash of Clans, set in space. Every player has their own planet, and you can team up with your friends. Rashad Hasanzade told us that they really aim to make it fun to play with friends, and that the social aspect comes first. There is an evil AI power called B.O.TS.  you’re meant to stop from invading the galaxy destroying your home planet. The game looks really colourful and delicious and will be released for iOS.

Next up was Taphold Games with two games. Lead designer Konsta Kesälä told us about the Metropolia game design project their company formed around, the as of yet unreleased Buglantic Football. Refreshingly, the game is in fact a two-player hotseat game for mobile platforms! The idea is to bring people together over mobile devices, in the manner of board games. The teams move on a hex grid and attempt to score goals kicking around a wilful little bug who also moves if it has the space to do so. I was pleasantly reminded of old Heroes of Might and Magic mechanics, but the game requires some chess-like tactical thinking as well.  The game will be published later for iOS, Android and PC, but the company is currently focusing on their recently published mobile puzzle game, SumTowerElias Rantanen was there to introduce us to SumTower. The game has some match-three qualities, but the guys at Taphold wanted to do something different. In a 6x4 grid, you start with a screen full of blocks. Removing blocks makes the blocks fall down and similar colours combine, but as an extra twist, the blocks have numbers on them! When the blocks combine, the numbers on them are summed together. The game combines the incredibly addictive features of Candy Crush and 2048 while being quite original. I was instantly hooked! SumTower is available on Android, iOS release is pending.

What a fantastic gathering once again!  See you all in February!



Photos by Daniel Schildt

IGDA Finland Seminars + January Gathering with Metropolia


Happy New Year! January means the beginning of our spring season, starting with a gathering sponsored by Metropolia, a university of applied sciences. Media, IT and business are some of the Bachelor's Degree programmes available, with some of the studies being directly related to games. Want to know more? Don't fret, Metropolia folks will be there to tell us how they can help out the industry.

There will also be a different sort of demo corner this time: Metropolia students are going to showcase some of their games. It will be exciting to see what the new talents have cooked up!

The icing on top of this already fancy cake: we managed to piece together a seminar with some very interesting speakers at the last minute! Adam Mayes from Uppsala University will speak about narratives and how to do them right, and Mika JD Sorvari from Rival Games gives us insight on how the episodic model works for story-driven games without an established IP. These gentlemen will surely have quite the stories to tell.

Join us next week for fun and games to kickstart 2016!

IGDA Finland Seminars presents: Once Upon A Time... Narrative in Video Games
12.01.2016 at 17:30 – 18:30
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

- Adam Mayes (Uppsala University): Narratives. We're really doing it wrong. - Mika JD Sorvari (Rival Games): The Devil in the Detail – Developing a Story-Driven Game in the 2010's

IGDA Finland January Gathering with Metropolia
12.01.2016 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

Seminar agenda

"My name is Adam Mayes, and I am a game designer." Adam is part writer, part designer, and wholly embarrassed about speaking in the third person about himself. In a previous life he wrote short stories, comics and plays. He likes to think he has an understanding of narrative that makes him frustrating to watch movies with. How working at Uppsala University, he spends his days coaching the intentionally creative, his evenings developing stuff for money (who is he kidding, grading and planning courses), and his weekends planning the build of a residential taker in preparation for the inevitable rise of the Idiocracy.

Narratives. We're really doing it wrong. (Part of me wants to leave this section blank and tell you that it's an emergent presentation, but that would be as lazy as that style of narrative design.) In a curmudgeonly presentation Adam will go back to basics and look at how narratives are put together, before killing your puppy and telling you that you're letting our vibrant medium down. He'll then go on to talk about systematizing narratives, making better characters and, how to author truly interactive narrative experiences. All in 30 minutes.

Mika JD Sorvari is the Lead Writer at Rival Games in Turku. Having previously occupied himself as a games journalist, freelance writer and a hearse driver's assistant, he now works on finishing the first season of the neo-noir crime adventure The Detail. He believes in the potential of games to serve as a powerful medium for telling thought-provoking stories.

The Devil in the Detail – Developing a Story-Driven Game in the 2010's Episodic story-driven games are all the rage today mostly thanks to Telltale and their numerous successess. With only a few competitors, it looks like a great field for new IPs, but how is it to actually develop one in 2016, and how does the episodic model fare on the online marketplace without an established brand?

IGDA Finland Seminars + December Gathering with InMobi: The Aftermath

This year was wrapped up in our December gathering last week. Not only did we have traditional Christmas caps for everyone, provided by our sponsor InMobi, but a seminar to kick off the evening and a demo corner featuring local devs as well. What a night! The first presentation was by Jami Laes, CEO and co-founder of Futureplay Games. Instead of the traditional free-to-play monetization model with IAP, his company has opted for a different approach: view-to-play. Laes showed us why video ads are a more profitable option – with few companies using this opportunity right now.

Continuing the theme, Mitchell Smallman from Next Games gave us some insight as to why ads have monetized remarkably well with Compass Point West. He listed some key points they had learned from other successful games on the market as well as the things they had done differently.

Seminar slides available for download here:

After the seminar it was time to gear up for the party. The revival of demo corner was a huge success, with eleven teams and developers showing off their games to peers.

Thank you for another great gathering – happy holidays and see you in January!

Photos by Daniel Schildt.

IGDA Finland Turku Hub November Gathering with LudiCreations


This November the Turku Hub went analog with Iraklis from LudiCreations, who gave the developers of digital games a glimpse to a slightly different world: that of board game development and publishing. When Finnish people think of board games, the first one that probably pops to the mind is Afrikan Tähti, whereas in the English-speaking world the stereotypical board game might be Monopoly.

Board gaming has come a long way in the last couple of decades. “You might be surprised to hear this, but Monopoly is a horrible game”, told Iraklis. “Four people start the game, but after a while two of them drop out and just sit and watch the two chase each other around the board.” The renaissance of board games started in 1995 with the publication of Settlers of Catan. According to Iraklis modern board games aim to give players agency, interesting choices and interesting experiences around the table, not just luck-based die rolling like in Chutes and Ladders – an old game from India that was originally designed to teach the players about the inevitability of fate. Instead of competing with each other, in many modern games the players co-operate, either by trying to overcome a common obstacle, or building something together.

According to Iraklis the latest big thing in board games is a so-called Legacy phenomenon, where the actual game will change permanently according to how it is played. This can mean that the players are supposed to tear apart a card when the rules tell them so, write on the game board or add stickers there, or change the rules of the game in some way. The end result is a game board and state which can be unique from other groups. The problem with Legacy games is to find a stable group to play them with.

Some things in designing and publishing board games sound familiar to people working in the digital games, such as the role of licenced games and the problems around them. There is a history with licensed board games that are badly slapped together. License holders can be very protective of their IP, and they are more concerned with the look and feel of the game instead of the mechanics. As a result there is a certain amount of preconception with licensed board games being bad, which is familiar from video games.

Ideally creating and publishing a board game is not a solitary job, but like video games it requires a talented team – a publisher, a game designer, an illustrator and a graphic designer, rule designers, proof readers, production manager and a team of playtesters. A board game should go through at least a hundred blind playtests, which means a test where the publisher or designer is not present.

Unlike in video games, where the unfortunate norm is to publish a buggy game and patch it post release, board games should be thoroughly tested. Are half-baked games published in the board games business? “More than I’d like to admit”, was Iraklis’ reply. The games are becoming more visual and the players pay more attention to art than the mechanics. A certain amount of “we’ll fix it in the expansion” attitude is creeping in.


Although board gaming is living a new heyday, Iraklis still describes it as a minuscule business compared to digital games, and Finland as a minor business area. Most of the big business comes from Germany and United States, which also applies to the designers. Iraklis describes the designer and publisher community as a small and tightly knit one, where everybody knows each other, what they have published and done. There is perhaps ten people in the world who make their living off designing board games. As a company LudiCreations has published ten games, three of which have had a Finnish designer. The minimum print of a game is 1000 copies, and one that sells more than 5000 is a hit. This doesn’t mean that board games are just a curiosity, since for example in Germany there are board game reviews in newspapers next to movie reviews, and according to Iraklis there are weekly events where 100-200 people gather to play.

How about tips for an aspiring board game designer? “Look, if you really love board gaming, my advice is not to do this, seriously”, said Iraklis with a smile. “Every year I’ve been publishing is I’ve been playing less and less. One reason I’m not developing is that I’d have to play the same game again an again, and it gets very boring. Why to do it? When everything else is gone, 300 years in the future everyone is still enjoying your game. It’s a creative pursuit with so many facets - how the game is created, distributed, and so forth. I love board games and bringing them to people. I’m surrounded by very, very talented people who help me bring the games to the people and see them enjoy them. It’s definitely not the money, but then again board games are a low risk, low reward pursuit.”

What other learnings are there to take home from board games to the digital side of the fence? “There’s the saying that if you can design a good board game, you can design a good digital game, and that’s absolutely true. The effort that goes into balancing and designing a single board game is incomparable to designing an average digital game.”

After Iraklis’ excellent presentation the 30-odd people enjoying the evening at Hunter’s Inn had the chance to try out a selection of new and old board games.

Re-introducing Demo Corner in IGDA Finland Gatherings

With new locations come new possibilities: as the gatherings are moving to Maxine, we thought this is a good time to bring the demo corner back. It has been way too long since they have been organized, and as the IGDA Finland community is all about sharing what better way to foster that ideal than showcase the talent in that community. The demo corner is a place for developers to show off their games and get some feedback. We're aiming for this area to be a space for everyone: from people working on commercial AAA games to enthusiasts making indie projects in their spare time. So don't worry about your studio being too famous or your personal project being too insignificant – we want everyone to have a chance at giving and getting feedback and sharing ideas.

If you have a game you're working on that you want to share with fellow devs, head to December Demo Corner sign-up page right away!

IGDA Finland Seminars + December Gathering with InMobi

It’s pre-Christmas party season, folks! And we know it wouldn’t be the same without IGDA Finland December gathering, so worry not: ‘tis the time to get festive, end the fall season in style and prepare for a well-earned rest over the holidays.

This year’s pre-Christmas celebration is sponsored by InMobi, a global mobile advertising platform that reaches over 1 billion mobile devices every month. InMobi recently launched Miip, their user first discovery platform. Because users come first to them and they obsess about delivering the right user experience, we’re confident you’ll not be disappointed by the special treats and speeches they have prepared for the event. And not only are you in for epic fun times, there is also a seminar before the party.

The seminar this time is all about strategies for monetizing with ads and how to implement ads in a non-intrusive way. Our speakers come from Futureplay and Next Games, both studios that have succeeded in pulling off this “impossible” feat.

After all the special events this season and hopping all over Helsinki we’re also finally ready to announce our new gathering venue: IGDA Finland will be settling in at Maxine. Judging by the general feedback after our last invasion to this venue, we think quite many of you will approve of this.

Besides the seminar and party goodies, we have yet another special little something planned for the event: devs will have a chance to showcase their games during the evening. Read more here and sign up if you want your chance in the spotlight!

So prepare your party gear and join us on Dec 8 – it’ll be a blast!

IGDA Finland Seminars presents: Ad Monetization Strategies, Sponsored by InMobi
8.12.2015 at 17:30 – 18:30
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

- Jami Laes (Futureplay): View To Play Games - The Next $100B Market - Mitchell Smallman (Next Games): Rewarded Video Ads in Midcore Mobile: Blazing Trails Where We Were Told Not To Tread

IGDA Finland December Gathering with InMobi
8.12.2015 at 19:00
Place: Maxine, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 A, 6th floor, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

Seminar agenda

Jami Laes was previously in charge of Angry Birds and everything else in games as the Executive Vice-President of Games at Rovio Entertainment. He has been leading global game studios at EA, Playfish and Digital Chocolate over the past 10 years. Laes first started in mobile games in 2000 as a game designer at Riot-E and his first games he developed on his Amiga 500 in 1988. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of Futureplay Games.

View To Play Games - The Next $100B Market The mobile ads market is estimated to top $100B in 2016. And no developers are focused on it. While everyone is still staring at the TOP-grossing chart, Futureplay Games is building a new generation of View-to-Play games. Jami will talk about Free-to-Play & View-to-Play and how in their debut game Farm Away! they have successfully leveraged ads in a rewarding, fun and non-intrusive way that make our games more fun, faster and cheaper for the players to play and the players love it.

Mitchell Smallman is a Senior Product Manager at Next Games. A six year Free to Play veteran (yes, including MySpace) has worked as Story Writer, Game Designer, Consultant, Pro Wrestling Referee and Product Manager throughout his career. He is a passionate advocate of free to play and casual gaming.

Rewarded Video Ads in Midcore Mobile: Blazing Trails Where We Were Told Not To Tread Rewarded ads have not been widely used as a central feature in mid-core titles due to fears of effecting IAP conversion and audience engagement. Mitchell will share lessons learned from Next Games' mid-core title Compass Point: West, along with practical examples from other developers. He will include how to tie rewarded ads into your core gameplay mechanic in a meaningful way, how rewarded ads can be regarded as a feature instead of an interruption, A/B testing to get the right value for advertisers vs IAP spending, balancing a game economy with heavy ad value, and analyzing player behavior to understand ad watching players.

IGDA Finland November Gathering with Omniata, Redlynx and Slush: The Aftermath

For November's gathering IGDA Finland hooked up with customer data platform specialist Omniata and Redlynx, one of the oldest and finest Finnish game companies, not to mention that the entire event was held at Slush in Messukeskus in Helsinki as one of the official after parties. In the Slush setting with dimmed lights, fog and lasers piercing the ceiling we enjoyed futuristic music, entertaining presentations and hot food! The evening started with delicious Korean food from Kimchi Wagon: sesame hot pot or the veggie with root vegetables, ricenoodles and mushrooms. The event continued with opening words from IGDA Finland Chairman Jyri Partanen, followed by Omniata's presentation on their company. The most memorable message from Omniata's Alex was that the Finnish sauna is the best. In other words, it tells that companies or employees coming from abroad face cultural integration at work and outside the office. One solution or at least a factor in integration is having fun while creating. This viewpoint was highlighted in the RedLynx presentation. Various RedLynx founders gave speeches, but the final words from Antti Ilvessuo summarized their working culture: fun to the extreme.

The event continued with music from Flashback Future DJs and a gig by the dark and futuristic electronic music producing Finnish duo Blastromen.

A perfect way to end day one of this year's Slush and kick off the second!

Photos by Sasha Paleeva.

IGDA Finland November Gathering with Omniata, Redlynx and Slush

IMPORTANT: Slush passes are NOT valid for entry, nor is one required to register to this party. To ensure a faster sign-in at the door, please either print your ticket or have it ready on your mobile device.

One of the biggest events of the year is approaching fast: Slush 2015 is almost here. For those not in the loop, Slush is a 2-day conference bringing together tech startups, investors and media. Last year there were over 14 000 attendees so you can expect quite a crowd!

IGDA Finland will be organizing the official game industry party – which doubles as our November gathering – on Wednesday, November 11, sponsored by Omniata and RedLynx. You can expect food, drinks and live music as well as something special on the side…

Note that registration is required for this event, so head on over to the event sign-up and secure your access right away to our biggest event yet!

IGDA Finland November Gathering with Omniata, Redlynx and Slush
Time: 11.11.2015 at 19:00
Place: Messukeskus, Messuaukio 1, 00521 Helsinki (Yellow Area in Slush)

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

IGDA Finland October Gathering with Remedy

October is almost upon us and you know what that means: it’s gathering time! Mark October 6th on your calendars and prepare yourself for a night of awesome: the gathering is sponsored by Remedy, taking a (well-deserved) break from developing Quantum Break and equipping their party hats to have a good time with fellow devs.

We’ve hopped places a lot during the past couple of months, and this time is no different: our venue for the event will be Virgin Oil Co. – so make sure not to default to our usual spot! Little birds have also sang their sweet songs of swag to be handed out…

See you all there!

IGDA Finland October Gathering with Remedy
Time: 06.10.2015 at 19:00
Place: Virgil Oil Co., Mannerheimintie 5, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.

We are also organizing something special in addition to the gathering: IGDA Finland is proud to take part in Pelit kiertoon, a campaign to donate games and gaming devices to charity. The games and consoles will find their way into such places as hospitals, sheltered homes, women's shelters and refugee centers.

October gathering will have a designated drop-off table where you can bring your unneeded games for any platform (board and card games are fine, too!) and any old consoles you want to pass on. All donations delivered to us will be forwarded to Hope ry, an association supporting poor and struggling families, giving the children and youth in these homes a chance to have hobbies.

Help us help others, and give your old gaming gear a new life! Any questions about the campaign can be sent to niina.pesonen@igda.fi (IGDA Finland) or mikko.merilainen@helsinki.fi (Pelit kiertoon, campaign coordinator).

Umbra Ignite & IGDA Finland September Gathering with Umbra

The September seminar and gathering were sponsored by Umbra, and what a day it was! We had an amazing seminar for the whole day with mind-blowing presentations about some of the latest ideas, trends, research and innovations in the industry. Here we want to share a few moments from that day with you:

It was morning and the seminar space was almost ready.

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Finally the doors were open!

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The seminar space was full and it was time for words of welcome from Umbra.

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The seminar started with a presentation by Rulon Raymond, Sr. Engine Programmer from Infinity Ward.

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Raymond talked about skinning and the evolution of the hardware of consoles, and how skinning should or should not be technically implemented. He identified problems in skinning such as “candy wrapper effect” (means that a joint is bending when animating) and "flat ass syndrome". Raymond then presented different technical solutions for the problem, such as GPU friendly Dual Quaternion Blend skinning. At the end Raymond reminded the audience that “Skinning is not a solved problem”.

Next on stage was Graham Wihlidal, Sr. Rendering Engineer from Frostbite.

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Wihlidal presented Frostbite engine and the challenges that different usage, platforms and genres produce and how the team found solutions. Wihlidal told that at Frostbite each team can decide what features will be implemented and how this customizability keeps the performance good because only important parts are kept. Frostbite’s solution is to have the engine close to the hardware which makes it easier to work with and increases the quality.

Next in the spotlight were Remy Chinchilla and Kevin Cerdà from Tequila Works.

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Chinchilla and Cerdà presented AAA production tips and solutions for indie studios. They talked about combining creativity with business. The freedom of creativity is the most important thing, but the producer has to be able to recognize the important features for the project and prioritize the implementation. Creative chaos in organization doesn’t make a game and Chinchilla and Cerdà told it’s important to move to production and to learn to close things. They talked also about how recognizing the abilities that each member of the team has and how letting them use their skills leads to a better working environment. And they reminded how a studio should always plan ahead their problems.

Then Jérémy Virga from Arkane Studios came on stage.

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Virga presented Dishonored 2 rendering and engine architecture. He told about their rendering pipeline and that they wanted to move towards multithreaded game logic and rendering. Virga explained how pipeline changes to multitasking makes the organizing of the data more difficult, but they found many benefits for the change. They split the render loop which saved duration time and gave good results and they still continue to evolve their engine.

Next up on stage were Thor Gunnarsson and S. Reynir Hardarson from Sólfar studios.

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Gunnarsson and Hardarson presented their virtual reality AAA game studio. They talked about VR challenges and their design principles for a good virtual reality game. Virtual reality performance requirements need resources that will easily lead to major compromises in implementation and that is when a strong artistic and technical knowledge are very necessary skills. Gunnarsson and Hardarson endorsed the future of small agile teams that have no room for egoism, but many responsibilities and strong participation which all creates greater work satisfaction.

Then it was time for the presentation by Balázs Török, Lead Engine Programmer from CDProjekt RED.

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Török talked about memory management in open world games and the challenges and what solutions they found while making Witcher 3. Török talked about GPU pool defragmenting and how they made three iterations to the engine. First they tested CPU memcopy but decided they can do better. The second iteration was a compute shader, but they still weren’t satisfied and made the third iteration: DMA engine.

The last presentation was by Alex Evans from Media Molecule.

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Evans talked about their journey and technical challenges when they were developing a new game engine for their new game Dreams on Sony PlayStation. Media Molecule presented Dreams engine at Siggraph this year. They made four versions that evolved from polygons to voxels and then to froxels and finally to splashes in cooperation with art director and artists to test and find the final visual style. Creative minds put together resulted in an amazing outcome.

After the mind-blowing seminar the attendees got some special treats and drinks before the doors were opened for the monthly gathering. Umbra sponsored also the gathering which continued until the late night...

Thank you Umbra for the exciting day! And thank you Circus for the good service! Stay cool and awesome and see You in October!


Photos by Janne Karvinen.

IGDA Finland September Gathering with Umbra

As most of the developer scene is undoubtedly aware tomorrow is a big day: at 11:30 we’ll be opening the doors at The Circus for Umbra Ignite. While the seminar, featuring speakers from renowned studios around the world, has long been sold out, everyone is welcome to the September gathering held at the same location from 19:00 onwards.

Umbra will be sponsoring the gathering as well, we have a special drink offer available and a small surprise for all attendees. So even if you missed the registration for the seminar, drop by and enjoy the after party!

IGDA Finland September Gathering with Umbra
Time: 01.09.2015 at 19:00
Place: The Circus, Salomoninkatu 1–3, 00100 Helsinki

Please note that you need to be at least 18 years old to attend. The cloakroom service is offered free of charge.